Bundy and Ryan and America’s cowardly media

Paul Ryan: ““Your buddy Charles Murray or Bob Putnam over at Harvard, those guys have written books on this. Which is, we have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities in particular of men not working, and just generations of men not even thinking about working and learning the value and culture of work. “So, there’s a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

Cliven Bundy: I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,”  He recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do. And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?

Appearing on “Larry King Live” in 1995, Jesse Helms, then the senior senator from North Carolina, fielded a call from an unusual admirer. Helms deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, the caller gushed, “for everything you’ve done to help keep down the niggers.” Given the rank ugliness of the sentiment — the guest host, Robert Novak, called it, with considerable understatement, “politically incorrect” — Helms could only pause before responding. But the hesitation couldn’t suppress his gut instincts. “Whoops, well, thank you, I think,” he said. With prodding from Novak, he added that he’d been spanked as a child for using the N-word and noted (with a delicious hint of uncertainty), “I don’t think I’ve used it since.” As for the caller’s main point — the virtue of keeping down blacks — it passed without comment. NYTimes

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz started off his Wednesday speech on foreign policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation with a confession: His first political contribution was a $10 contribution to the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), when he was 10. Then he followed it up with a plea. “We need 100 more like Jesse Helms,” he said. Mother Jones Magazine

“Impressive though the historical, sociological, and psychological evidence undergirding this analysis may be, it also happens to be completely insane. Whatever Lee Atwater said, or meant to say, advocating tax cuts is not in any meaningful sense racist.” - Jonathon  Chait.

297 words explaining Econonomics as immoral pseudo-science

And remember, Eugenics used to be respectable as was Galen’s anatomy.  Nobel Prize winning economist Thomas Sargent provides the following list of economics principles, lauded by Vox as deeply insightful

1. Many things that are desirable are not feasible.

On the surface, this is a tired truism that one tries to teach toddlers. Underneath it’s economics default position - a defense of the status quo.

2. Individuals and communities face trade-offs.

See 1.

3. Other people have more information about their abilities, their efforts,
and their preferences than you do.

Hilarious after (1) and (2), but, again, the surface meaning is misdirection. After all, if we took this at face value, we’d give up college tests (evaluate your own abilities, students), employer evaluations, marketing, and market research. Think about how many people knew they wanted a smartphone before someone went out and made one. What he really means is something a lot more ideological. He means that Democratic government cannot shape the economy for the general prosperity. And that’s false.

4. Everyone responds to incentives, including people you want to help. That
is why social safety nets don’t always end up working as intended.

What he means here is that poor people won’t work if you feed them. This is neither true nor a finding of research, it’s the timeless excuse of the well fed hack for the privileges of his masters.

5. There are tradeoffs between equality and efficiency.

This is just baldly false otherwise the most “efficient” economy would consist of one King and his slaves. 

6. In an equilibrium of a game or an economy, people are satisfied with their choices. That is why it is difficult for well meaning outsiders to change
things for better or worse.

Equilibrium is one of the most pernicious concepts of economics. Basically it means, shut up and be happy with the crumbs, sucker, because this is how it is.  Certainly industrial economies have never been in equilibrium.

7. In the future, you too will respond to incentives. That is why there are
some promises that you’d like to make but can’t. No one will believe those
promises because they know that later it will not be in your interest to
deliver. The lesson here is this: before you make a promise, think about
whether you will want to keep it if and when your circumstances change.
This is how you earn a reputation.

Economics encourages you to forget about stupid shit like honor and just grab what you can, unless you are poor, in which case, see (6).

8. Governments and voters respond to incentives too. That is why governments sometimes default on loans and other promises that they have made.

Surface meaning: people sometimes don’t tell the truth. Actual meaning: you can’t rely on government programs like Social Security, so we should kill them.

9. It is feasible for one generation to shift costs to subsequent ones. That is
what national government debts and the U.S. social security system do
(but not the social security system of Singapore).

This is just false. The social security system increases the national wealth, reducing the burden on subsequent generations.

10. When a government spends, its citizens eventually pay, either today or
tomorrow, either through explicit taxes or implicit ones like inflation.

This is the empirically false common Econ axiom that government spending cannot create wealth. For example, all that spending the US government did on creating and building out the Internet will have to be paid paid later by citizens of the imaginary Economics world where government spending cannot grow the economy. Here in the actual world, government spending on the Internet paid massive dividends.

11. Most people want other people to pay for public goods and government
transfers (especially transfers to themselves).

For example, rich people don’t want to pay for public order and social functioning that permits them to earn wealth.  Oh wait, that’s not what he means.

12. Because market prices aggregate traders’ information, it is difficult to forecast stock prices and interest rates and exchange rates.

The hidden premise here is that stock prices, interest rates, and exchange rates depend on aggregate traders information. Because, for example, the central banks can’t push interest rates up or down, even though they do.

The best statement was the first:

Economics is organized common sense.

No. Economics is a pseudo-scientific ideology designed to preserve the short term advantages of the privileged and justify selfish  blindly immoral behavior even if the cost is the destruction of the world. 

Good faith liberalism

Paul Ryan: ““Your buddy Charles Murray or Bob Putnam over at Harvard, those guys have written books on this. Which is, we have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities in particular of men not working, and just generations of men not even thinking about working and learning the value and culture of work. “So, there’s a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

1. Is Charles Murray is a racist who makes up statistics to support his racist doctrine. Is this debatable?

2. Bob Putnam. Let’s come back to Bob Putnam

3. Inner cities. There is a higher rural poverty rate than metropolitan rate. And suburbs have the fastest growing rate of poverty.

4. “not even thinking about working and learning the value and culture of work” - real social scientists who have studied inner city joblessness have documented that there are no jobs and that paucity of employment, and the increased percentage of jobs that pay at or below poverty rate are the operative factors, not any cultural issues that anyone has been able to document.

5. This is what Bob Putnam says: But the story of Port Clinton over the last half-century — like the history of America over these decades — is not simply about the collapse of the working class but also about the birth of a new upper class. In the last two decades, just as the traditional economy of Port Clinton was collapsing, wealthy professionals from major cities in the Midwest have flocked to Port Clinton, building elaborate mansions in gated communities along Lake Erie and filling lagoons with their yachts. By 2011, the child poverty rate along the shore in upscale Catawba was only 1 percent, a fraction of the 51 percent rate only a few hundred yards inland. As the once thriving middle class disappeared, adjacent real estate listings in the Port Clinton News Herald advertised near-million-dollar mansions and dilapidated double-wides.

So, taking Ryan’s remarks at face value, we have a false claim that poverty is a problem of inner city culture not valuing work which he supports by citing a racist fraud and a social scientist who doesn’t say anything of the sort. In other words, it is gibberish. But then we ask, what will Bennett’s audience make of this? Will they scratch their heads and try to figure out how to interpret Ryan’s remarks in light of the research of sociologists and economists, compare Putnam’s work to Teitz’s summary or will they, as a great deal of research indicates, take this reference to “inner cities” and to America’s best known pseudo-scientist ( a frequent guest on Bennett’s show) as confirmation of their racial biases? Are we done yet? Can we stop pretending that Ryan has a sensible position and identify his use of racist code words for what they are?